What is psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy/counseling, or common known as the “talk therapy,” utilizes talking and a safe therapeutic relationship with a therapist to explore possible origins, impacts, and solutions to emotional and/or behavioral issues. In psychotherapy, you and your therapist may discuss in greater details of your thoughts, feelings, or motivations underlying certain behaviors. Depending on your presenting concerns, significant relationships or relevant life experiences in your past and present may also be explored. These topics are incorporated in therapy so that you may gain insights about yourself and therefore find tools to make future life choices that are rewarding and meaningful.
How do I know if this is something for me? Can I still look for therapy if I’m not "really sick" or "crazy"?
The short answer to the second question is, YES. Therapy is NOT for people who are “sick or crazy.” Therapy is for everyone who knows that real life sometimes gets real hard. As we move through this lifelong journey called life, we oftentimes come face to face with difficult challenges in our ways that at times feel too big for us to hold on our own. These challenges may be significant life transitions (e.g., going to college, moving to a new town, starting a new job, ending a job, entering into a new relationship, ending a relationship, having a child, losing a child) that may or may not be planned. In face of these challenges, we may develop emotional reactions such as stress, anxiety, or sadness in mood, that are seemingly not quite helpful to us. In therapy, your therapist can assist you in identifying these life challenges, their subsequent emotional and/or behavioral reactions, understanding them, then moving forward with new tools of coping and thriving.
What does therapy usually look like?
The process of therapy typically begins with a thorough assessment, known as the intake interview, in which information on your presenting issues, relevant history, general functioning, and overall wellness are obtained. Then, you and the therapist work collaboratively to establish treatment goals and action plans based on your presenting concerns. Throughout the course of therapy, you and the therapist will check in periodically on these goals and plans to monitor the treatment process and to modify accordingly if necessary. The length of therapy varies, depending on your goals, circumstances, and situations. This is usually determined together with your therapist during the initial phase of therapy.
Is therapy confidential?
YES. For therapy to be successful, it requires a tremendously amount of trust in the therapeutic relationship between you and the therapist, in which many deeply personal and sensitive materials are discussed. As psychologists, we do not take this trust lightly and we adhere to the highest level of ethical codes surrounding confidentiality. In general, everything that is disclosed in therapy, including all records, will be kept confidential and no one has access to your records without a written consent of release signed by you. The few exceptions to this confidentiality are related to safety concerns. If there are reasonable suspicions that you are in immediate danger of harming yourself, or someone else; or if there are reasonable suspicions of an incident of child abuse or abuse of elderly or dependent adults, confidentiality may be waived to ensure the safety of people involved.
How is psychotherapy different from psychiatry? What about medications?
Psychotherapy and psychiatric medications are two forms of treatment for mental health related issues. Psychiatric treatments typically involve medication prescription and management. As psychologists, we do not hold prescription privileges and cannot prescribe medications. However, it is often found that combining both forms of treatment can be beneficial especially at the initial phase of treatment. If you are interested in supplementing therapy with medication, we can provide you with referrals for psychiatrists in the area that may fit your needs.
How do I get started?
Before scheduling your first appointment, it is recommended that you schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation with Dr. Shaw. During this initial phone conversation, Dr. Shaw will ask you some general questions such as your presenting issues and what you are looking for in therapy to better understand whether our service may be a good fit for you. During this time, Dr. Shaw can also answer any questions you may have regarding the therapy process. If it is determined that a follow-up meeting is necessary after the initial phone consultation, Dr. Shaw may offer to schedule an in-person consultation with you, at the regular session rate (currently $165 per 50-minute clinical hour).
What’s your rate? What about insurance?
Presently, the rate of each session is $150 per 50-minute clinical hour, including intake interview, individual session, and couples counseling. Rates may be negotiable and a sliding scale fee may be available on a limited basis. Dr. Shaw does not currently accept health insurance coverage and is considered an “out-of-network” provider. For more details, please visit our RATES page.
What if I need to cancel or reschedule my appointment?
All appointments can be cancelled or rescheduled without a charge as long as such changes are made at least 24 hours prior to the original scheduled appointment. Changes made within 24 hours of the scheduled appointment will be charged with the full session fee.
Can I use Chinese in my sessions? 我可以用中文嗎？
Dr. Shaw is fluent in both English and Mandarin Chinese and can provide therapy in both languages. In order to foster a safe environment in the therapeutic relationship, Dr. Shaw typically encourages clients to use either or both languages in ways that are natural and comfortable to them.
What is testing?
Psychological testing (or also known as assessment or evaluation) is used to assess a person’s overall abilities and different domains of functioning. Depending on your presenting concerns, the evaluating clinician may include a variety of tests to look at specific areas of your functioning and to highlight the areas that are relevant to your current concerns or that require additional attention.
How is testing helpful? What does it provide?
The evaluation typically includes clinical diagnoses (if appropriate), analysis of different areas of functioning, and most importantly, recommendations for treatment planning. Results from the evaluation can offer important insights on a person’s behavioral, emotional/psychological, and cognitive functioning. These can then be used to propose changes or recommendations on the individual’s school, work, or social environment. Sometimes, a psychological evaluation is recommended by a physician to gain a fuller understanding of the patient’s medical and mental health functioning. A psychological evaluation may also be recommended by a teacher to assess the student’s learning and cognitive abilities.
How do I prepare for testing? Do I need to study?
Fortunately, no studying is needed for psychological testing. This kind of testing is intended to capture a screenshot of your current abilities and functioning. The more you can be relaxed yet alert before and during the testing, the more we can ensure that the results reflect how you are under normal conditions. To prepare for testing, it is best that you get a good night of sleep and feel well rested, recharged during the day of testing. On the day of testing, eat a light meal or snack, drink plenty of water (and bring some with you), and bring all relevant records or necessary paperwork to the appointment.
What can I expect during testing?
The evaluation typically begins with a clinical interview in which we ask you questions about relevant history and current conditions. Depending on the type of testing, we will then guide you to complete simple tasks or problems within a specific amount of time. You may request breaks during the testing or we may schedule appropriate breaks during the process. Testing make take several hours to complete.
What can I expect after testing?
We will gather and analyze your test data, including all relevant data from your records and interview. We will then prepare a written report to present our findings, answer your referral questions, and propose recommendations based on your current situations. We prefer to schedule a feedback session with you to go over the written report and address any additional concerns.
How do I get started?
How much is the evaluation?
The cost of the evaluation depends on the complexity of your presenting issues, the number of tests required to address these issues, and the time it takes to complete the analysis of results. Generally speaking, you will be billed at the regular hourly rate of $150 per 1-hour interview, test administration, data interpretation, and report writing. Dr. Shaw will discuss in details with you during your initial consultation to determine what may be best suitable for your needs.
How is consulting different from counseling?
A consulting relationship is vastly different from a counseling relationship. For details in counseling, please see FAQ on Psychotherapy/Counseling. For consulting, our clients are typically organizations that are looking for insights on human behavior to achieve specific goals in productivity, safety, diversity/inclusion, organizational changes and management. In counseling, we as therapists focus on the individual level and the therapeutic treatment progress. In consulting, we as consultants focus on the organizational level and provide suggestions or recommendations that are appropriate to your organizational goals.
What type of clients do you serve?
We have served many different types of organizations, ranging from university campuses, student organizations, professional organizations, and businesses. Our clients are business owners, executives, educators, or student leaders who are intentional about making their organizations or workplace more culturally sensitive and inclusive.
How do I know what type of consultation I will need?
A lot of times our clients approach us with some kind of consultation in mind. For example, they may be looking for additional training in diversity competence or cultural sensitivity for their employees. Or they are looking for experts in the field of psychology to provide presentations or workshops on mental health wellness and increased productivity. Whether you are looking for a specific type of consultation or not, our consultants will collaborate with you, conduct necessary assessments on your organization or business, and propose specific types of consultation tailored for your needs.
What’s your rate?
The rates are dependent upon the type of consultation provided. An initial consultation meeting, or ongoing, 1-hour session consultation is $150 per hour. Other type of services such as workshop, presentation, or seminar is charged based on the length of preparation and the type of delivery of such event. Please visit our RATES page for more details.